Over this past semester I’ve been working toward finalizing my capstone project as part of the Critical Media Practice specialism. The project is being developed in parallel with my doctoral research which investigates forest management and processes of urbanization, with the overall goal of providing an insertion point through which to critically analyze the potential of planning and design within these spatial contexts. The capstone has enabled a deep dive into a discrete slice of these dynamics, and explores incentivized landscapes of forest stewardship in the region of southern Ontario. The work navigates the various ways of defining and valuing these forests, and asks the question ‘what is a managed forest?’  Methodologically, the project investigates how artistic research contributes to an understanding of these landscapes, as well as how, and through which modalities of engagement participants are involved in their stewardship. By integrating video as part of my research methodology, I ask: what does this particular approach -one that blends fieldwork with video installation- offer?

A work in progress, this piece has been reformatted several times over the last year. It was first conceptualized as a three-channel video installation, which then transformed into a two-channel piece that paired camera movement and montage to explore different ways of connecting spaces separated geographically, but united through policy and stewardship.  In this first iteration, I was interested in what was revealed when this footage was coupled to create new digital landscapes combining different scales, locations, and movements. The pairing brought attention to ecological similarities while juxtaposing footage to highlight differences in location, scale, activities and time.

Critical Media Practice is pleased to announce the awarding of CMP-Mellon Fellowships to 22 CMP students, primarily to support capstone work.  A total of $40,000 in fellowships was awarded.

These fellowships are supported by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which has supported CMP for nearly 10 years.

Film/Video Technician Stefan Grabowski recently led a workshop for Film Study Center fellows and Critical Media Practice students on how to select appropriate microphones for different media production situations.  It was inspiring to see demonstrations of the wide variety of professional mics available to FSC fellows and CMP students, including small and large-diaphragm condenser mics, dynamic mics, contact mics, hydrophones, magnetic pickups, and parabolic mics.  Some of the specialty mics inspire experimental approaches to audio recording and sound design.

See Stefan’s workshop handout for details on the transducer varieties, pickup patterns, stereo configurations and arrays, and accessories as well as an introduction to considerations for technique and practice.

by Shireen Hamza

I wasn’t really sure what the Flaherty seminar was, beyond a large group of people gathering to watch and discuss films, three times a day for seven days. I knew about the principle of non-predisposition, that I would be walking into each day’s three programs without knowing what I would be watching beforehand. But before arriving and speaking with some of the participants who had attended previous seminars, I did not know of the many significant changes that the organizers of Flaherty have made over the last few years. Though the seminar has a long history of being a place for international film, the organizers have of-late been choosing programmers who could uniquely center communities of artists whose work is marginalized in, and not widely accessible in, the US.

In 2018, the programmers were African American artists Kevin Jerome Everson & Greg de Cuir Jr., and next year’s programmer will be Professor Janaína Oliveira, a Brazilian scholar and programmer focused on Black filmmakers across Latin America. And organizers have responded to the call by Sky Hopinka and others to change the logo, which used to be an objectionable representation of an Inuit character from the eponymous Robert Flaherty’s famous film, Nanook of the North.

I had been so drawn to the description of this year’s seminar — Action! — and interested in what kind of films might be programmed by Shai Heredia, an organizer of India’s first experimental film festival, that I had not reflected on the broader shifts that this specific seminar was a part of at The Flaherty. Entering this art space, which centered artists from across Asia, I was also pleased to see that there were many attendees (and fellows, specifically) from Asia, and of various Asian diasporas, as well as artists and curators of other historically marginalized identities within the US. (more…)

The ‘Italian Council’ is the main program promoted by the Italian Minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities, established in 2017 with the aim of funding the creation of high-budget art projects and increasing the collections of Italian public museums.

Italian artist Emilio Vavarella, currently a PhD candidate in AFVS and CMP at Harvard, is among the winners of the 2019 edition of the Italian Council with a project entitled “rs548049170_1_69869_TT”. The project will benefit from a 178,000.00 euros production budget and revolves around the idea of translating the artist’s genome into a large textile, using commercial genotyping techniques available in Mountain View, California, and a 19th century Jacquard loom (one of the first ‘computing machines’), still active in Southern Italy.

Vavarella’s project aims to conjugate tradition and modernity by intertwining the genetic and cultural histories of the artist and his mother, (who is a tailor), and topics such as the digitalization of biological life, technical reproducibility, and the intersection between artisanal textile manufacturing and contemporary techno-scientific possibilities.

An integral part of the project will be a series of collateral events and initiatives aimed at expanding the project’s theoretical implications and produced with the support of cultural partners in Italy, the United States and China, including: Ramdom, a cultural association in Puglia and leading partner of Vavarella’s project; Arthub Asia, a Shanghai-based platform devoted to contemporary art creation and diffusion; the Film Study Center at Harvard University; and MAMbo, the Museum of Modern Art in Bologna.

Learn more about Vavarella’s work here: http://emiliovavarella.com/